Undergraduate/ Graduate Entry Medicine

There are lots of opportunities for medical students to get involved in educational research. All undergraduate medical programmes include at least one period of study selected by the student (Student Selected Modules, Student Selected Components, electives), and many will offer these in medical education. These provide great opportunities for you to carry out a project with a clinical teacher.

You might want to take a whole year studying medical education as an intercalated degree. Depending on your medical school and timing of intercalation, this can be a Bachelors degree (usually a BMedSci) or a masters degree. These degrees normally include a research element, where you can develop research skills and have dedicated time to address a burning educational question.

Many students also present their work at medical education conferences or even publish in a journal.

There may be other opportunities to undertake educational research – such as a vacation scholarship or internship (which can pay you a small stipend). Look out for these opportunities on your medical school website, and talk to your clinical teachers. If they know you are interested, then they will work with you to apply for these placements! Students with an interest in educational research should also look at events, courses and networks available through organisations such as ASME (which includes JASME - a section specifically for students) and AMEE. 

Post-graduate/post registration 

In medicine there are a number of ways in which you might further your interest and skills in clinical education research.

The Academic Foundation Programmes (AFP) is designed to develop research skills, and in many Foundation Schools you can apply to do AFP in medical education. This will mean one of your four month placements in each of Foundation Years 1 and 2 will be an academic placement, working with medical education researchers. This will give you a solid grounding in relevant research skills, as well as a taste of what a career as a clinical academic is like.

Post Foundation, there are several options. Firstly, you could apply to join the NIHR Integrated Academic Training (IAT) pathway as an academic clinical fellow (ACF), with a research interest in medical education theme. Alternatively, you might want to pursue a post as a Teaching Fellow, linked to a local medical school. This is a non-training post, which can give you an opportunity to develop your skills in teaching delivery. Many programmes will also support you to undertake a post-graduate teaching qualification during this time, which may include a research component.    

The NIHR IAT scheme provides a structured academic career pathway. However, this is flexible, and you could join at different stages of the pathway. The NIHR also offers a range of other Fellowships, including In-practice Fellowships. 

 A key step for future clinical academics is to obtain a postgraduate research qualification – whether an MD (Doctor of Medicine) or PhD. Some medical schools allow a period of PhD study alongside the medical degree. However, most people undertake their MD/PhD later on in their career. This will require you to step out of clinical training having successfully applied to NIHR, or another funder, to undertake a doctoral research programme.